Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Reece James faces a number of weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Throughout the past 12 months, the defender has been plagued by a number of injuries, most notably the knee issue that kept him out of the 2022 World Cup.
However, since then, James has spent a further three periods on the sidelines, with a hamstring injury keeping him out for the final weeks of 2022-23.
The England international returned during pre-season and built up his fitness sufficiently enough to come through 76 minutes against Liverpool on the opening weekend of the campaign.
At the time, Pochettino brushed off any fears of an injury, saying that his withdrawal was due to tiredness, but James suffered a fresh hamstring injury in training in the days after the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Reports have indicated that the 23-year-old faces a lengthy period in the treatment room as he again battles to overcome an issue that has disrupted his efforts to become a mainstay in the team.
Pochettino was inevitably quizzed on the issue during his pre-match press conference ahead of the game with West Ham United, the Argentine attempting to remain positive about a potential return for James next month.
Speaking to reporters, Pochettino said: "I think it is a sad moment because he is our captain, and he was so excited to be a captain. He was full of energy.
"I think we are going to assess him day by day, and for sure, he is going to become stronger than he was because we are going to help him.
He later added: "It won't be about a few days, maybe few weeks, but the most important thing is that it is not a big issue, but now we want to anticipate problems and be sure that when he starts to play again, he is fully fit and stronger than he was before.
"That is why we will try to assess him day by day and make a plan every day."
Malo Gusto is expected to deputise for James against the Hammers on Sunday, with fellow backup defender Trevoh Chalobah, who can also play on the right-hand side of the defence, on the sidelines with his own hamstring injury.